50kW Solar PV system to reduce overall electricity costs and associated CO2 emissions for community water supply
The Polecat Springs Water Treatment Plant (PSWTP) consumes approx. 120,000 kWh of electricity each year. This is primarily used to pump 450 m3/day (average) of treated water from the spring source to the Header Tank which supplies the Group Water Scheme (GWS) members.
The GWS Co-op sought to reduce both the energy costs and CO2 emissions of the plant by installing a 50kW Solar PV to provide renewable electricity for the pumping operation. Group Water Schemes are a common solution in rural Ireland where a publicly owned water supply system is not available.
The site is in a rural location with an open aspect suitable for Solar energy. The current available space owned by the Co-op could facilitate a 150kW Solar PV array. Therefore the Planning Permission allows for expansion of the current 50kW in future phases. The Co-op team engaged a number of partners in the project including Veolia as the plant operator and a Project Coordinator to help source appropriate funding to support the project. The Co-op were initially provided with technical support in SEAI’s Sustainable Energy Community (SEC) programme. The Project Coordinator then secured capital funding through the Better Energy Communities (BEC) scheme providing 50% of eligible costs.
Capital cost of the install was €58K of which 50% was grant funded through the BEC scheme. Other costs were incurred during initial project development and planning in the region of €10K.
Evidence of success
The 50kW Solar PV system has generated 27,000 kWh in its first 7 months of operation (Dec 2019 to June 2020). This represents a reduction of more than 8,900 tonnes of CO2. Any electricity generated which is not used on-site is exported to the national electricity grid. Work is ongoing to optimise on-site utilisation.
The current system is configured to use the Solar PV electricity on-site when there is a suitable demand. Any excess Solar PV is exported to the grid but does not provide revenue. Work is ongoing to optimise on-site utilisation by (i) Load Shifting and (ii) Energy Storage.
Potential for learning or transfer
The project is transferable to any similar GWS. There are in excess of 5,000 GWS in Ireland alone. The model of community ownership is also suitable for scaling up to grid-scale renewable energy.
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